The Juneau Police Department, March 20, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

The Juneau Police Department, March 20, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

JPD says they’re ready for coronavirus, quarantine

Business as usual- with some sensible precautions.

The Juneau Police Department has weighed, measured and found the coronavirus wanting as the disease spreads, a spokesperson said Wednesday.

“The important message we’d like to share is that we have no reductions in service at this time,” said JPD public safety manager Erann Kalwara in a phone interview Wednesday. “We are making changes here to accommodate things.”

The most visible changes for members of the public will be that all patrol officers will now wear gloves on duty. Officers may also wear masks and eye protection at their own discretion, Kalwara said.

“Officers, when they’re talking to someone in a business or residence, are going to be asking people to step outside to create a little more social distance,” Kalwara said. “I don’t think it’s too different from what we do day to day except for the same things everyone is doing.”

[City and state advise against long-distance travel]

Maintaining more than six feet of separation while speaking to someone has been recommended by the CDC to help slow the spread of the disease. Kalwara said that the office is also preparing to isolate parts of the building, more thoroughly decontaminate vehicles and uniforms and work remotely as necessary.

“We have been holding some remote meetings using Skype and phone conferences,” Kalwara said. “Fortunately, we already have the equipment and capacity to do a lot of that (remotely) because officers already have mobile data terminals.”

Kalwara also said the department is not worried about an uptick in crime caused by unemployment or kids being out of school. But the schools closing has had other effects on the force.

“It’s not something that typically creates too much extra work for law enforcement. Tensions are high and people are going to be stressed out. A lot of our job, police officers and dispatchers, is counseling people,” Kalwara said. “One of the concerns about the schools closing is that many of the officers have kids in the schools and so that’s a major issue.”

Lemon Creek Correctional Center was contacted, but the superintendent was unavailable for questions about their preparations or changes in their operating routine.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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